Sunday, July 22, 2012

G.W.'s Birth Story: OB vs. Midwife

I am excited that G.W. has shared her two birth stories with us.  Her first birth was with an inattentive OB and her second was with a caring and respectful midwife. It is amazing to read these two births that both occur in a hospital setting but with such different caregivers and how the lifelong memories are so different. Thank you G.W.!

G.W.'s Second Birth: The Midwife

This is the story of my second birth. Feeling the way I felt about the [first] birth - that it was great DESPITE the OB and not because of her, I decided to go with a midwife.

I asked for some recommendations and decided to go with a two-midwife practice in Park Slope/ Williamsburg [New York City]. Their names are Joanne and Janet. While it was Joanne that eventually delivered my baby girl, Janet was just as awesome throughout and as the due date was approaching I had no real preference because both of them were so very great. 

I felt the difference between a midwife and a OB in the very first visit.  Their Park Slope office is in an apartment that was covered to a clinic with a comfy living room as the waiting room with toys for kids and tons of great books and videos that you could borrow.

The midwives always saw me within minutes of my appointment time (I would wait for an hour before going into the exam room with my OB and then another 30 minutes in the exam room until he would enter) and they were always calm, smiling and had a "no worry" attitude. I still did all the prenatal tests I did with the first pregnancy and it was really awesome to go through the pregnancy with a practitioner who was not looking for drama but rather a healthy birth.

I was almost two weeks past due when the midwife stripped my membranes and the next day the birth started veeeery slowly. Me and my husband met my doula friend around the hospital and I walked and walked, climbing up and down front steps of the Brooklyn Heights brownstones and eventually checked in the hospital.

The midwife asked me to bring castor oil with me if I wanted to avoid any other type of induction and so when I got there with only 2 cm and not many contractions I had to drink the yucky stuff (and it is NASTY).

The great thing about a birth with my midwife is that after checking me in, the midwife left us to our own device. It was me, my husband and my doula (who is a reflexologist) and I was able to go take a shower and work through the contractions.

The castor oil affect was very powerful and within an hour or so I had very powerful contractions that were so close to each other that I hardly was able to catch my breath between them. Within two hours I was fully dialated and it was time to rock and roll. Again, I pushed for less than 30 minutes and this time I was on all fours on the bed with my doula holding the monitor. It was so much better than lying on my back pushing upstream!

Towards the end I had to turn around and sat propped up so the monitor would get a better reading and then my daughter came out, all 8.6 pounds of her.

It was great that throughout all that time the room was dimly lit, quiet and other the nurse occasionally coming in, it was just the four of us.

G.W.'s First Birth: The OB

For my first pregnancy I chose to have an OB deliver my son. I was not fully aware of the midwife option back then but I do have a good friend who is a doula and so I hired her to accompany me and my husband. I am so thankful that I had her there! 

While my primary OB had agreed to try to stick to my birth plan as much as possible (I wanted to avoid any pain medication, not to have an episiotomy and to birth in whatever position I felt was comfortable to me and that was safe for me and the baby) the doctor who ended up delivering my baby had a different agenda.

I had some mucus showing at 5 am on a Tuesday, three days after my due date and some contractions, but they were too far apart. I called my OBGYN office to give them a heads up and they asked some questions and then immediately asked me if I was headed to the hospital. I calmly answered that I planned to wait until the contractions were 5 minutes apart and I sensed that the woman on the phone found that a bit unusual. I also spoke to my doula (actually she was my first call) and we decided that I will let her know when I will head to the hospital and will meet her there (North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital, New York).

By noon we got to the hospital and after filling out the paperwork I encountered a very nasty triage nurse who was anything but gentle, but thankfully she realized that I was 7 centimeters dilated already and sent me to a delivery room right away.

I had made a decision before going into this that I would try to avoid pain medications as much as I could. I heard enough horror stories from other moms who had bad experience with epidural and, frankly, I was more scared of the huge needle going into my spine than I was of the pain of labor.

One of the things I was not expecting, however, was how much I would feel the contractions in my lower back. The best was for me to tolerate the pain was to keep standing up but in the labor room they asked my to go on my back so they could check how dialeted I was and once they realized I was already 9 cm it was show time.

With my husband on one side and my doula on the other the OB showed up. It was not my original OB (a gentelman) but rather another female doctor from that practice. As soon as she came in the room she said (and I will never forget these words) "you need to labor on your back because that is the only way I can save your perineum." The reason I will not forget this is because it may have been comfortable to HER to deliver my baby that way but it is was, how should putt it mildly? the biggest load of you know what... It took me a loooong time (and I am talking years) to get over the anger and, yes, the shame, for not telling her then and there that I want a different doctor NOW who will let me birth as I wanted. But I was already in the transition phase and within 20 minutes of pushing my little boy came into this world.

Do you think this doc even bothered to read the birth plan that I brought with me to the hospital? At some point the doctor decided to inject me with some anesthetic and was preparing for the episiotomy that I specifically requested to avoid. My doula saw that (I was in the throws of labor with my eyes closed the whole time, focusing on my breathing and my body) and so she said something quickly to my husband who then told the doctor that I requested not to be cut and that it was in my birth plan. Unfortunately by that point my perineum was swollen from the injection and therefore less flexible, which I believe resulted in me tearing up more than I would otherwise.

I remember the burning sensation of the crowning and the pressure of his tiny body squeezing out (I reached out to feel his little head) and then all of a sudden the pressure was gone and I had this little bloody creature on my now-deflated belly. It is very hard to describe the hugeness of this moment in words. My doula snapped a picture of that moment and you can see the tears of joy in me and my husband's eyes and the wonderful nurse I had who had a huge grin in the background.

By 4 pm, 11 hrs after everything had started and only 4 hrs after arriving to the hospital my son was born and life has never been the same :-)

G.W.'s Afterthoughts

I don't plan to have more kids at this point but if I would, I would never go back to an OB again! The midwives were just so awesome and supporting and great that I could not believe my fortune!

My advice for moms to be is to educate yourselves as much as you can about birth and the different options and to ultimately listen to your body and trust your instincts. Take pre-natal classes so you are around similar-minded ladies and you get your body ready (New York Yoga on Saturdays!)

Have a doula with you to support you and be your ambassador to the world of hospital births - she is the only one there who is truly there for YOU and YOU alone (yes, so does help your husband but he is busy breathing with you and has never given birth before).

That's my story and I am sticking to it!

Happy Birthing

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